Skip to main content
Grolier Club Exhibitions

Type Specimens

4.39 Vatican type specimen.jpg

Stampa Vaticana.

Adrea Brogiotti, Indice de caratteri, con l’inventori, & nomi di essi, esistenti nella Stampa Vaticana, & Camerale.  — Rome: [Stampa Vaticana], 1628.

This specimen book from the Stampa Vaticana, compiled by its director Andrea Brogiotti, contains forty-nine type-faces then in the possession of the Stampa as well as some sixteen archaic and exotic scripts, including Arabic, “Abraham” (Aramaic), “Moyses” (a specimen of early Hebrew letterforms), and “Indorum” (Indian).  

4.40 Caslon type specimen.jpg

Caslon, William.

A specimen by William Caslon, letter-founder, in Chiswell-Street, London. — London: [William Caslon, 1738].


One of the first type specimens issued by William Caslon (1693–1766), who began his type foundry under the patronage of printer William Bowyer. This 1738 specimen contains Caslon’s renowned roman old-face types, as well as several exotic letterforms, including Gothic, Coptic, Armenian, and Samaritan. Caslon’s roman types were greatly admired by Benjamin Franklin and other colonial American printers, and they were used for the official printing of the Declaration of Independence.

4.41 Enschede Proef.jpg

Enschedé, Joannes. 

Proef van letteren, welke gegooten worden in de Nieuwe Haerlemsche lettergietery van J. Enschedé.  — Haarlem: [Joannes Enschedé], 1768.

British printing historian Harry Carter called the Proef van letteren “a classic in typographical literature because of its notes on the provenance of the older founts, shown in the book although they were of purely historical interest.” At the end of the work is an engraving by Cornelis van Noorde (1731–1795) showing workers at the Enschedé foundry in the middle of the eighteenth century.

Screenshot (211).png

Bodoni, Giambattista.

Manuale tipografico del cavaliere Giambattista Bodoni. — Parma: Presso la Vedova, 1818.

A native of the Piedmont region of Italy, Giambattista Bodoni (1740–1813) spent most of his life as printer at the Duke of Parma’s private press, the Stamperia Reale. Along with the Didots in France, Bodoni was instrumental in the development of “modern face” roman types, characterized by an enhanced contrast between thick and thin strokes and flat, unbracketed serifs.  The two-volume Manuale tipografico, issued by Bodoni’s widow after his death, included Bodoni’s original designs for numerous roman, Greek, and Cyrillic types as well as several exotic types.  

Gift of Samuel Putnam Avery, 1894.

4.45 Figgins.jpg

Figgins, V. & J.

Specimen of printing types by V. & J. Figgins, successors to Vincent Figgins, letter founder. — [London: V. & J. Figgins], 1840.

In 1815, English type founder Vincent Figgins (1766–1844) issued a full range of new and innovative faces, including one that Figgins called “Antique”—the first known showing of a slab-serif display face, a style which gained popularity in the early nineteenth century and was later dubbed “Egyptian.” 

Gift of Samuel Putnam Avery, 1903.

American Printers’ Specimen Exchange

4.47 Am Printers Specimen Exchange.jpg
Specimens of handiwork by leading printers in all parts of America and many foreign countries.  — Buffalo, N.Y.: Ed. and conducted by E. H. McClure, 1886–1889/1890. 4 volumes.

Begun in 1886, the American Printers’ Specimen Exchange required participating printers from the United States and abroad to submit 200 to 300 copies of examples of their best color printing, and in exchange they each received one bound copy of all the entries used. The Grolier Club has a growing number of similar examples of nineteenth-century “artistic printing” in its collection.

Purchased in 2001.

Continental Typefounders Association

4.49 Bifur type specimen.jpg
Words only are important: alone, a letter is nothing. — New York: Continental Typefounders, [ca. 1928].

Printed in France, this type specimen was one of five issued by Continental Type-founders, founded in 1925 by Grolier Club member Melbert B. Cary, Jr. (1892–1941) to import and sell foreign typefaces. The foil-backed covers, indigo, peach, and yellow cellulose sheets, and black and yellow printing give this specimen a striking appearance. Celebrated Art Deco poster artist A. M. Cassandre (1901–1968) designed the lively, geometric Bifur type featured here in 1928. 

Gebrüder Klingspor

4.48 Koch Antiqua.jpg


Eine Antiqua-Schrift nach Zeichnung von Rudolf Koch. — Offenbach: Gebr. Klingspor, 1922.

In 1906, German type designer Rudolf Koch (1876–1934) joined the Gebrüder Klingspor type foundry of Offenbach am Main, where he created some twenty-three type faces, both gothic and roman.  Koch first sketched this graceful roman “Antiqua” in 1916, but the war delayed its immediate development. Issued in 1922, Antiqua was a great commercial success, and was employed in Great Britain under the name Locarno and in the United States as Eve.  

William Wegman

4.51 Wegman.jpg 04.51.1 Wegman detail.jpg

Wegman, William.

A showing of Weimaraner: being specimens of letters, numbers and punctuation of an original and extraordinary letterform. — New York. [etc.]: Thornwillow Press, 1997.

American artist William Wegman has been using his Weimaraners as subjects for his photographs, videotapes, paintings, and drawings since the early 1970. For this playful alphabet, Wegman photographed his dog Fay and three of her offspring—Battina, Chundo, and Crooky—assuming the shape of letterforms. 

Purchased in 1999.